There have been explosive volcanic eruptions on Mars!

In 2016, the Curiosity rover found a mineral called tridymite in sediments observed inside Gale crater it landed nearly ten years ago. According to some researchers, this mineral was formed by partial crystallization in a magmatic reservoir, before it was thrown into the air during a volcanic eruption to finally descend and deposited at the bottom of the lake that was then located in this crater. Hence, this testifies to an explosive volcanic eruption on Mars where volcanoes are mostly erupting…

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[EN VIDÉO] Zoom in Curiosity landing site
An animation made from real images from two orbiters showing Curiosity’s descent into Gale crater, and eventually the probe’s elements.

The NASA choose it Curiosity of The lands in Gale Crater, where it likely contained water liquid In the past, thus strengthening the search for Effects of life on this planetwhich is the main objective of this rover. The presence of liquid water at the bottom of this crater about 150 kilometers in diameter, which was probably formed after the impact of a small celestial body about 3.7 billion years ago, It was confirmed quicklyespecially through observation sedimentary rocks in this place. Moreover, there is in the “mudstone”, a fine-grained rock that corresponds to mud Or to hardened clay, this trio is observed, concentrated in a layer of this rock.

rare metal on earth

this is mineralrather rare on our planet, is associated with volcanoes acid is called from ponds which has undergone a long deep cooling. The latter causes the formation of crystals, the chemical elements of which are formed over time are depleted in the magma. On the contrary, other elements will focus there, such as silicon For example, a major component of magma and the main responsible for his wife.

Thus, magma that only stays for a very short time in the magma reservoirs of volcano It crystallizes very little: therefore it remains basic and very low in silicon (about 50% isotropic). So it is not very viscous and generates volcanic activity basaltmostly flowing, forming streams that spread very far from the mouths eruptive. This type of volcano is prevalent on Mars and has remarkably built the massive shield volcanoes found on this planet: Olympus Monsfor example, which has a height of 22.5 km, or Alba Mons Its base diameter is 1600 km!

Conversely, if the magma remains in the volcano’s reservoir for a long time, it crystallizes and becomes rich in silicon: and becomes acidic. Consequently, it becomes more and more viscous and generates highly explosive volcanic activity. It’s in those acid rocksAnd the rhyolite Obsidian, which is found on the ground. It is polymorph silicafrom the formula SiO2 : So it is only made of silicone andOxygen.

How could this mineral then find itself concentrated at the bottom of Crater Gale?

Valerie Bairy and her collaborators Thus it was suggested that the magma would have remained longer than usual in the magmatic reservoir, allowing the emergence of microcrystallization to settle for a while. It was then possible that silicon enrichment of the magma would have allowed 3D formation beforevolcanic eruption from the volcano. The resulting ash would have fallen off during this, and then the rivers would bring this ash into the lake where it could precipitate, forming this layer from which the probe sampled.

If this scenario turns out to be correct, it would be evidence of explosive volcanic activity on Mars, which would complement observations of ash deposits and buildings reminiscent of stratovolcanossubordinate cones From slag or cones float…here’s why Kirsten Seebach, mission specialist on NASA’s Curiosity team, believes ” It is suggested that Mars may be volcanic history More complex and interesting than we could have imagined before Curiosity “.

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